Do “Speed Ladders” Really Increase On-Field Speed?

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Alex, Iʼve noticed you donʼt have many videos on your Instagram page and website using speed ladders. Why is that? I feel like there a great tool to improve speed. Just wondering what you think. Thanks

Anthony T.

Anthony, when I was in high school, I was determined to lower my 60-yard dash time of 8.3; I know it sucked. After doing research of my own, I kept coming across “speed ladders” and saw all these athletes moving there feet fast so I thought to myself, wow I need a speed ladder! So I used speed ladders religiously for about two years or so and my speed NEVER got better. I could do the fastest icky shuffle in NY, but I still ran in the 8ʼs. This couldnʼt be working. In comes Vinny Scollo; He is a great strength and conditioning coach out of Syracuse, NY who showed me the right path. Vinny taught me how to get faster. He taught me how important force production was in my sprint, how mobility can make me faster, ect. So the reason you donʼt see any fancy speed ladder videos of my athletes is because Iʼm not a fan of them. Why? Well, last time I checked, doing the fastest hopscotch or icky shuffle didnʼt translate into improved sprinting speed. However, improving general strength, power, mobility, and lengthening your stride absolutely DOES. This isnʼt to say ladders donʼt have a place in athletics because they absolutely do. I use them here and there as part of my warmups for ankle mobility, light aerobic work, and foot work. The reason I donʼt use them very often is because I have limited time with my athletes (usually 2 weeks to a month),and they need results fast. Ladders are just not useful for their immediate needs of becoming more powerful, explosive, or fast. In this clip below youʼll see Iʼm doing a ladder series with Toronto Blue Jays Outfielder, Nick Sinay.

In this clip, Nick is performing an ankle stability series as a precursor to his speed warmup. He is using the ladder to increase his core/body temperature as well as ankle stability and mobility.

If ankle stability is your main goal, I say go for the ladder, Anthony. If getting faster is your only goal, stay away. Improve your mobility, general strength, and sprint mechanics via sprint variations to get faster. Iʼve talked about how to do this multiple times in past blog posts. Make sure you check them out on my website.

Hopefully Iʼve saved you from the “speed ladder”!

-Alex

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